The Best Next Step

Ink and Hot Chocolate on Watercolor paper – Words: Samuel Beckett

Having set the goal to create a piece of calligraphy every day until I hit one thousand, I have to sometimes take supplies on the road and work in strange places. On this particular day I was in a car dealership waiting for my car to be serviced, drinking a cup of complimentary hot chocolate. I spilled a drop on my piece of watercolor paper, said a few choice words and stopped working. I only had one piece of paper with me, so I didn’t know how to proceed. I put the piece of paper aside and moved onto something else.

I have a pile of papers that have marks, smears, even mistakes on them. I put them aside to let my brain marinate over using them again in the future. When I saw the piece of paper with hot chocolate stains (I added a few out of anger after I mistakenly made that first splatter) I had an idea. I found this quote and loved the idea of taking a mess and making it into something else. It was more than four months after I had made the initial spill, so my thoughts had time to gather themselves and settle into using this messy page. The right words helped me pull it all together.

Sometimes our best work is not what we thought we were going to do. Often our best work, our most creative work happens when we deviate from the plan, the structure, and let our imagination guide the way. This means giving up our idea of perfection and yielding to the ebbs and flows of the creative process. This not only applies to art, it applies to our lives. Trying to force things to get done simply because we scheduled a time and place to do the work does not always yield our best work. Sometimes the ideas, motivation and follow through are not there. Being self aware enough to know when to stop forcing things IS in and of itself a huge element of the creative process. Which means we have to stop forcing things, move onto something else AND possibly build in time knowing that our ‘time to work’ schedule may not be when our best work is created. A little leeway goes a long way when working to create in any avenue of life.

So be it a hot chocolate spill on your only piece of paper, or setting aside that spreadsheet to do something else. Be willing to produce your best work when you are not fighting, fudging, or forcing it to bubble to the top. Sometimes taking a break, putting it aside and moving into another project is the best next step to get to your best work.

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